Geelong plumbing company fined $20,000.00
A GEELONG plumbing firm was fined $20,000 yesterday after one of its apprentices fell through a ceiling into the office of a Rex Gorrell car dealership.
Geelong Magistrates’ Court heard the worker had only been employed at Mills Plumbing & Airconditioning three weeks when he made the surprise appearance in the reception area in December 2016.
The man fell 2.6m and went to Geelong hospital with bruises and grazes. He remains working for the firm, and wrote a letter in its support.
The court was told the firm was usually a stickler for safety procedures, and had a plan for working at the car dealership.
However, changed conditions meant the apprentice and a supervisor had to crawl through the ceiling.
Despite the possibility of a fall of more than 2m, the employer failed to create a new safe work statement for the operation, and it was that failure that landed it in court yesterday.
The court heard if the workers had paused to go through that process they would likely have installed temporary flooring or walkways in the roof space or an elevated work platform, and the fall would have been prevented.
WorkSafe prosecutor Tanya Puri said the man was “lucky” his injuries were not more serious.
“There was a plan in place but it wasn’t followed,” Magistrate Peter Mellas said.
Mr Mellas didn’t convict Mills Plumbing & Airconditioning, but put it on a year-long adjourned undertaking, ordering it pay $15,000 into the court fund for local charities.
The company was also ordered to pay more than $5000 in legal costs to WorkSafe, and the court heard it had spent about $10,000 on specified health and safety training since the incident.